Reading and Riding: Hachette's Railroad Bookstore Network in Nineteenth-Century France

Reading and Riding: Hachette's Railroad Bookstore Network in Nineteenth-Century France

Reading and Riding: Hachette's Railroad Bookstore Network in Nineteenth-Century France

Reading and Riding: Hachette's Railroad Bookstore Network in Nineteenth-Century France

Synopsis

Reading and Riding is the first in-depth study of Hachette and Company's railroad bookstore network. The Bibliotheque des Chemins de Fer, begun in 1853 as a means to market a special collection of books to train travelers, developed into France's first national chain bookstore. This analysis of the railroad bookstore network demonstrates how it transformed Hachette and Company from an academic publishing house into Europe's dominant publisher and distributor of all types of books, newspapers, and periodicals. It reveals the network's critical role in the modernization of the French publishing industry through the application of new marketing techniques, the use of the growing rail network as a primary means of distribution, and the large-scale employment of women.

Excerpt

This books marks an important milestone on what has been a circuitous journey. I have always loved books and reading and have been enamored with France, its language, and its people for a long time. Upon graduation from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service I obtained a position at an American publishing firm, Grolier Incorporated, that had just been acquired by a multinational company based in Paris, Hachette S.A. After working at Grolier for about a year, I began graduate studies in European history at the University of California, San Diego. A footnote in a book for my first research seminar that referred to Louis Hachette’s Bibliothèque des Chemins de Fer caught my eye. I stored that tidbit of information in a corner of my brain, where it lay dormant until the time came to choose a dissertation topic. Further investigation of the subject captivated me. I was hooked.

Now, the book is completed and it is time to write my thank you notes. Limitations of time and space force me to be selective. First, perhaps, I should thank Wolfgang Schivelbusch for that footnote in his book The Railway Journey; it started me on a most interesting quest. I am grateful to Patricia E. Conroy at Grolier, for furnishing a letter of introduction to Hachette S.A. At Hachette, I am especially indebted to Georges Lanthoinnette, the company’s archivist. Mr. Lanthoinnette provided me invaluable assistance as well as words of encouragement. This book would have been impossible to complete without his help. I must also thank several professors in Paris for their guidance: Patrick Fridenson, Roger Chartier, Daniel Roche, Jean-Yves Mollier, Frédéric Barbier, Elisabeth Parinet, and Luce Giard. I am particularly appreciative of Goulven Guilcher’s enthusiastic support for my research into a topic of such great interest to him. The staff members of the Centre des Archives du Monde du Travail in Roubaix were generous with their assistance to me during my second research trip to France in 1998. I am also thankful to my adoptive French “parents,” Jean and Janine Rombaux, for taking such good care of me during my stay in their country.

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